Integrating Strengths Assessments into Career Coaching

By Jennifer Doyle Vancil

The idea of using strengths assessments in career development is a way of understanding that the nuances of a jobseeker’s natural talents go beyond interests and skills. It can give career professionals insights that allow for a deeper understanding of ideal roles, marketing plans and effective job search strategies.

I tell my clients, “The goal is to get hired for your strengths, instead of in spite of them.” A client, and the career development professional supporting them, will be well-served to first understand what their strengths are.

Using strengths-based assessments can maximize the process of career exploration for career development professionals, add clarity to personal marketing and branding materials, and assist in suggesting job search strategies that will be most effective for each unique jobseeker.

Schutt, Jr. discussed the strengths approach in regard to three career questions in his 2018 NCDA monograph addressing “Who Am I? Where Am I Going? How Do I Get There?” (Schutt, 2018). Strengths-based assessments help the career development professional and job seeker with each one of these questions.

Strengths-Based Career Exploration

The first step in strengths-based career exploration addresses the intersection between “Who am I” and “Where am I going?” Start by developing an understanding of the top strengths that drive the job seeker and then evaluate what that means in terms of roles that potentially fit. Research shows that when people work from their strengths, they are happier, more efficient, and more engaged (Brim & Asplund, 2023).

Questions related to this part of the process include:

Career development professionals can discuss questions related to assessment results to help jobseekers gain insights into the work environment or consider new industries. For example, in the CliftonStrengths® language, if someone shows the strength of Communication® they often find it easy to talk with people and might look at jobs in training.

The results of a strengths-based assessment can offer clarity regarding the difference between roles and industries that jobseekers often do not understand. For example, one person with an interest in medicine might naturally thrive in health care administration roles while another might enjoy work on the front lines of serving patients.

There is not one set of strengths for one role, but the knowledge gained from strengths assessments can give career development professionals a more nuanced understanding of how the jobseeker thinks, acts, builds relationships, and influences which can then be used to help the jobseeker understand their natural strengths, ask better questions and find a stronger fit while they explore.

Strengths-Based Personal Branding

Having strengths-based career assessment results, career professionals can help jobseekers develop “strengths statements” that capture the value of each strength. These bring to light “Who am I?” in a way that both the jobseeker can gain clarity on and the employer can more clearly understand.

These “strengths statements” can then be used in a variety of ways, such as:

When a jobseeker is clear and specific on the value they bring for a job and can explain specific ways they have taken action in the past and will naturally operate in the future, a potential employer is clear on how the individual could become an integral part of the team.

Career development professionals can encourage jobseekers to use the exact language from an assessment to help convey strengths. For example, the High5 assessment might identify someone as a “Storyteller” and that person might be able to explain in an interview for a training position how they use storytelling in group presentations to inspire the staff they are training.

Using language from strengths assessments allows the jobseeker to be more specific about their brand and value they offer.

Strengths-Based Job Search

Most impactful may be the way using strengths-based career assessment data can address the “How do I get there?” piece of career transition. Knowledge of a client’s strengths can be used to help career development professionals suggest job search strategies that will work best for that unique client.

For example, a highly analytical person might succeed at researching companies in a specific industry online and creating a color-coded spreadsheet in a ranked order by most appealing company. But a natural relationship-builder will enjoy talking with people they know or who work there to get that same company culture information.

People whose assessments indicate they are highly strategic may enjoy setting a goal and imagining the multiple ways they could connect to a decision-maker at a company, while those with strong executing talents will love checklists and clear structure for the job search.

In the Kolbe assessment language, a jobseeker with a high QuickStart score may be open to taking more risks and reaching out to strangers or leaving a job before finding another one. Yet someone with a lower Quick Start score would prefer less risk and uncertainty and more stability.

Knowing a jobseeker’s strengths can help the career development professional guide them to choose strategies that are more natural and less likely to fail. Career professionals will also observe that when they help clients implement strategies that come more easily, the results are more effective, perhaps because the strategies were implemented more willingly (Vancil, 2019).

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Strengths-Based Assessments

Here is a list of strengths-based assessments career professionals can suggest to clients:


Valuable Insights for Approaches and Decisions

While a variety of coaching approaches can be effective, knowing the natural strengths of the client allows career development professionals to suggest strategies that work best for the client, regardless of the professional’s own preferences. Strengths assessments do not explain everything about a jobseeker’s needs, but they can offer valuable insights surrounding career decisions for the person in transition. 



Brim, B. J., & Asplund, J. (2023). The powerful duo of strengths and engagements. Gallup Workplace. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/505523/powerful-duo-strengths-engagement.aspx

Schutt, D. A., Jr. (2018). A strengths-based approach to career development using appreciative inquiry, 2nd. Ed. National Career Development Association.

Vancil, J. (2019). Using the CliftonStrengths assessment with clients in transition: practical strategies for career practitioners. Career Development Network Journal, 35(2).


Jennifer Doyle Vancil, M.Ed., is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and ICF Professional Certified Coach. She worked in higher education for 25 years, working with undergraduate and graduate students as an advisor, career coach, and MBA Career Management faculty. She is the owner of Communicating Strengths, LLC, providing 1:1 coaching to adults in career transition and facilitating team training, consulting, and providing executive coaching to organizations using strengths-based assessments. She was the Expert Contributor to the 2022 book Practical Strengths: Career Success by Jo Self and is the author of an upcoming book on creating strengths-based careers due out in 2025. You can learn more about Jennifer at www.communicatingstrengths.com and follow her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/jennifervancil

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1 Comment

Linda Sollars   on Sunday 06/02/2024 at 12:00 AM

I love this article! WHO before WHAT, as I always say, defines strengths as the leading edge in the career process. Using results from strengths assessments can be used to answer at least 5 questions in an interview, "Tell us about you", "Why should we hire you?", "What do you bring to this position?", "What would someone else/boss say about you?" and :"What are your strengths?"

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